Westwind

Route 395

Amy Huang

The earth sang to me.

Bajadas, he sang, and

his peculiar lilting inflection

bore a trace of an accent

from somewhere out of Bogotá.

 

And then his voice would swell with vigor

and he’d exclaim, forcefully, buttes,

smashing too many phonemes

into one syllable.

And I could hear the individual strata

in his candor.

 

Or he’d fall silent, and his impassive,

unknowable thoughts

would be punctuated by only

a thirsty gray-green

xerophyte, here,

there.

 

In the mountains

he sang of eras past.

Recalled the reign of ice over the land,

and launched into the staccato:

trough, horn, cirque, tarn, col, arête,

ambling and slicing along

in 6/8 time.

Sierra, he insisted, sierra nevada.

 

At Minaret Summit, he called me to prayer.

And though I’d never prayed before

I heeded the call

and bent my head.

 

We had to listen closely to the road.

To search, evaluate, and execute

as we traversed its noise and rumble

with our tire-tread stethoscope,

our interpreter who failed

the penny test.

Meanwhile,

the earth thrummed with the

radiant pulse of his own being,

his own constancy.

 

The wind through the windows

shimmered between breathy, expansive stillness

and some muted, far-off Gregorian chant.

The earth sang

and waited for us to respond.

 

And when we didn’t,

the earth continued to turn.

Brooks continued to babble.

St. Helens continued to sputter.

And if we could only sequence his “magma, igneous, sulfur,”

as we have codons,

we might understand where he hurt.

 

The chorus reached its crescendo;

he was singing from every orifice.

Yet when he sighed

and with boom—crash—

leveled three townships,

we couldn’t understand

that he needed

to yawn

and stretch.

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